Cambodia : EU condemns continued deterioration of democracy, human rights and rule of law

In its conclusions adopted by the Council on 26 February 2018, the EU voiced a number of concerns, including the escalating repression of the opposition, media and civil society, namely condemning the closure of the CNRP (Cambodia National Rescue Party) and demanding the immediate release of Kem Sokha. It further urged an end to using the judiciary as a tool against political opponents, civil society, labour rights activists and human rights defenders. Recalling that respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms underpins the granting of EU trade preferences - Cambodia has preferential access under the "Everything But Arms" (EBA) scheme - the Council has put pressure on the Commission to thoroughly monitor the situation and actively engage on this with the Cambodian government. Since then, the Commission has a launched what it calls an "enhanced engagement" process. The Council may consider specific targeted measures should the situation fail to improve.

FIDH has consistently advocated for the release of Kem Sokha, submitting a complaint to the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention regarding his arrest and detention. The Council conclusions not only echo and reinforce FIDH’s advocacy work regarding the granting and monitoring of EU trade preferences, but highlight the importance of strengthening EU support for human rights defenders.

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